Posted on June 14, 2013
Posted on June 13, 2013
It’s only a few short days away from MB’s departure back to the homeland, to kith and kin. MB will take break from the blogging for few weeks ’till he gets back from the Emerald Isle. But as will be burning out the camera with pics, will post up some good ones for all Crosser followers to drool over. Yes lads, drooling will be the order of the day for you all over next few weeks. Inshallah the sun will shine when MB is at home and he will blow you away with the awesome images. Read More
Posted on June 7, 2013
Posted on June 6, 2013
Marhaba & Hello from MB
Firstly lads, an apology from MB. In last week’s blog MB used an Arabic word that he though was acceptable translation of the English word ‘prostitute’. It was subsequently pointed out to MB that the word used is a street-slang swear word, not suitable for common usage (as in MBs blog) and likely to cause offense. The Egyptian lad who originally gave me this word failed to point out this important fact! This is not MB’s style as you are all aware. So big apology to all, especially to MB’s Arab lady followers of which there are thousands – not!
Met this kid on the street selling newspapers and magazines. Streetwise as hell, huge confidence, great attitude. He will be Prime Minister of Lebanon some day
The news from all over the Middle East of late just seems to get darker and darker. Acceptance of others views and beliefs seem to be shrinking. Saw interviews on the net recently with various Sunny clerics who were preaching the need to destroy (kill) their Shia neighbours, who also read the same Quran holy book. On the grounds that the Shia are somehow heretics who must be put to death for having a slightly different interpretation of the book. Bit like we use to do in Europe when we burned heretics and witches at the stake. Inshallah the Middle East does not have to wait 300 or 400 years to see basic human tolerance and decency prevail. As usual, as in most places, the majority of people are decent and reasonable, but an intolerant crazed minority can cause havoc and misery for all.
Was talking to a Syrian friend few days back and he told me that he had other Syrian friends around to his house recently. His friends are supporters of Bashar Al Assad, the Syrian Prime Minister and his government. I expressed surprise that the trouble in Syria with tens of thousands of people now killed had not affected his friendship with his friends. I am aware that he regularly posts anti-Bashar pieces on Facebook and has been advised by friends inside Syria that it would not be safe for him to return home. He replied to the effect that he could not allow Bashar Al Assad to affect 40 years of friendship he has enjoyed with his friends, regardless of their views, and they would continue to be his friends. In the midst of much blood and darkness and death, my friends attitude was a bright light. A small light for sure, but hopefully one that spreads far and wide in the future. Most have now come to conclusion that in the case of Syria there are even darker days ahead. Let us pray not.
Met a Lebanese man in recent days through work, and in response to MB’s ‘min ina anta?’ (‘where are you from‘ in Arabic) he informed MB he comes from the city of Tripoli, where a number of people had been killed in gun battle in recent days as result of troubles spilling in from neighboring Syria. Meeting him reminded MB of trip to Lebanon in early 2012 and the fantastic few days enjoyed there with family. And the friendly people encountered. In memory of that trip, and in big hope that Lebanon at least will be spared the trouble of the region MB is giving you some pics this week from that trip. Hope you like.
Thank God for music. Played this a few times last night. Switch to full screen. Amazing:
Lots of poverty throughout the Middle East and absence of welfare benefits make it even tougher than in the West. Stopped to speak to this man for few minutes, who was begging for money.
As informed you last week lads, MB will be heading home in few weeks for the HX Festival (3 local festivals actually). If you are of a mind to travel then take a look at the itinerary for this year’s event. Specifically this is the list for the Lough Gur Festival, but there are two other Festivals taking place in the neighboring villages for Bruff & Knockainey. Mentioned daughter of JFK in last week’s blog Caroline Kennedy – who will attend the Bruff event to dedicate a local building to the memory of her great-grandfather, who left the village in 1852. MB will have to use the grease gun on the Canon 7D before he goes back, it’s going to be hectic few weeks & photo opp heaven:
So hopefully see some of you at the festival, inshallah.
Like this one!
Beware the lady in the Burka who wants a hug!
Spare a thought lads for the misfortunate Indian lad who got the surprise of his life last week when a lady in a burka (abiya) suddenly hugged him in the lift. Obviously he assumed that the Arab Muslim lady was so overcome by his Indian masculinity that she threw religious caution to the wind and just gave in to her animal instincts. He later discovered this was not the case:
No lads, we did not have earthquake. MB is just playing mind games with you all, with his incredible camera wizardry!
ABU DHABI: They say a hug costs nothing, but for an Abu Dhabi resident it proved otherwise.
Indian expat Noushad lost Dh29,000 when an abaya-clad con woman stole his bulging wallet after locking him in an unexpected embrace in an elevator recently. The incident happened in broad daylight in the Al Raed Automatic Laundry building in the capital’s Tourist Club area.
The corniche/harbour area of Beruit. Has undergone huge redevelopment in recent years. A must-see location.
Sharia law – Husband to be whipped
The law in Saudi Arabia applies to women and to men. The judges really do not care about male or female. Justice comes from Sharia law which is based on the teachings of the holy book:
Manama: A judge in Saudi Arabia has upheld a flogging sentence against a husband for slapping his wife even though the wife later said that she forgave the husband and wanted the case dropped.
Beruit & Lebanon generally – Incredible food. Maybe the best MB has come across in all his travels. This pic is from the rooftop restaurant at Le Grey Hotel in the corniche.
The man was sentenced to 30 lashes and 10 days in jail and ordered to attend special sessions on marriage counseling and on how to treat and deal with spouses.
The court in Al Qateef in the Eastern Province said that the wife could witness the flogging in retribution for the physical pain her husband caused her.
The famous Rafiq Hariri Mosque. RH is Assassinated former Lebanese leader. Assassinated by Hezbollah according to recent UN report.
More English words from the Arabic
More educational stuff from MB lads, who continues to amaze you weekly with his eclectic mix of photos, wisdom and general ‘stuff’. Awesome!
The Lebanese consider themselves extremely sophisticated and a cut above the other Arab nationalities. These local girls spoke French as their language of first choice as they lunched next to MBs table. They informed MB that they are equally comfortable in both languages.
These 2 would not be out of place at some restaurant in Paris. Classic Lebanese sophistication!
Gay Games 2018
Yes lads its now down to 3! London, Paris or……………………….. Limerick! Organisers have short listed Limerick, along with 2 no-hope non-entity cities to host the 2018 Gay Games. Am sure Amsterdam & Orlando will be sick as parrots to get booted out. With approx 10,000 participants it should be a fun week in HX if Limerick wins the hosting. 2018.gaygames.org if any of you want to participate lads.
The grave/shrine of Rafiq Hariri
Federation of Gay Games announces finalists in bidding for Gay Games X
Limerick, London, and Paris continue in race to host the world’s largest sport and culture festival open to all
Today the international Federation of Gay Games announced that groups from Limerick, London, and Paris would continue in the bidding process to host Gay Games X. The three finalists garnered the most votes from among the members of the FGG’s site selection assembly, who for the first time designated this short list by online instant runoff voting. Unsuccessful in the vote were groups from Amsterdam and Orlando.
Occasionally give you link to other blogs I come across that catch my interest. Liked the following:
Letter to my 16 year old son
If any of you followers wonder what the HX land is like lads, I give you link this week to our local community newspaper called the Vale Star. It’s focus is almost entirely on local sporting and community group activities. Some of you Arabs might enjoy a quick scroll through it. Gives good idea of life in rural Ireland.
Many in the Middle East were recently very surprised to discover that Hezbollah are involved in Syria, fighting on the side of Bashar Al Assad and his government forces. MB came across a Hezbollah demonstration in support of Assad on his visit last year and wrote about it in his blog at that time. Absolutely no surprise to MB that these guys got involved.
Big news in Iran last week lads. A judge can now sentence those guilty of adultry to death by other means “where the possibility of stoning does not exist”. That phrase is not actually defined. So presumably it will apply in the sandy areas where there are insufficient suitably sized rocks. One can only but have sympathy for the lads throwing fist fulls of sand in the past for days on end as they tried in vain to stone (sand) the sinners to death. But no more. Mashaallah!
It was interesting to read in the article that if a sinner can free him or herself before death they are pardoned. But a man is only buried to his waist whilst a woman is buried to her shoulders, lest any of the rock athletes should see her bare breasts during the stoning games. Hardly seems fair.
Pics of Bashar Al Assad at the Hezbollah demonstration
Let the hunger games begin!
Cheers to DH!
Demonstration was good natured and noisy that day, with the soldiers smiling and joking. Suspect that would not be the case now.
Ok lads. Another week down. Planning a good sleep tomorrow on the Muslim holy day. Take care all. Have a nice weekend. May the sun shine!
MB supporting SMEs in Beruit
The famous bombed out and bullet ridden Holiday Inn Hotel in Beruit. Still standing to this day and testimony to the war of the 1970s. Let us hope no repeat of that fiasco for modern Beruitis. Inshallah.
Posted on May 31, 2013
Restaurant, Northern Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Buddist prayer flags, Kathmandu, Nepal. Each colour represents a different element – fire, water, earth…..
Gurka memorabilia shop, Kathmandu
If you get to Kathmandu, try the mo mos, the national dish. Yum!
You will never go wrong with chocolate!
Ireland – lots & lots of history
The home village in Ireland – lots & lots of signs
We could all do with an oil change!
Construction workers prostrate themselves for the after work evening prayer, in front of the restaurant. Northern Riyadh
Forget viagra – we have honey mixture in Middle East for same purpose!
Posted on May 31, 2013
Salam from Riyadh
It’s a balmy Saudi evening outside the hotel entrance door as MB writes his blog. Meanwhile, inside the lobby, MB is listening to the loudest painters making the loudest noises since Michael Angelo (another legendary Michael) dropped his bucket from the ceiling scaffold onto the marble floor miles below all those years ago. The artists in front of me are presently giving a touch-up to the ceiling which suffered some water damage during the recent 3 week monsoon. If you have seen the movie ‘Best Marigold Hotel’ you will get the picture. Each time the long-handled roller is dipped into the metal paint bucket it is producing a sonic wave throughout the entire city and structural damage is already reported to some major bridges. MB needs Panadol, or something stronger, asap. Or maybe MB is just tired and cranky after a busy week in the dusty desert. Maybe.
MB would seriously love a large cold bottle of White to relax the brain and quench the thirst, but such life pleasures are strictly forbidden in this stricter than strict Island of Islamic. If MB was in any other jurisdiction on the entire planet, a bottle from the ‘new world’ would presently be planked on the table in front of him with a long-stemmed glass sparkling in the evening sunshine . Or if that location happened to be some 3rd World haunt, then maybe a bottle of some local hooch would suffice, and the thirst would also be no more. So the thirst remains for the moment and the solution must await MBs return to the homeland next month alas.
Yes indeed lads, MB is heading home to kith & kin next month which coincides with the HX Festival. To be very truthful there is actually no HX Festival. But there are 3 festivals happening at same time in the surrounding localities. So MB will refer to them collectively as the ‘HX Festival’. In recent days it was announced in the local Press that Caroline Kennedy, daughter of assassinated US President JFK, will attend the event on account of the family connection with the HX locality. MB explained to some non-Irish Muslim Arabs yesterday that the ‘F’ in ‘JFK’ stands for the Irish name ‘Fitzgerald’. In 1852 one Thomas Fitzgerald emigrated from HX and a few generations later his grandson was President of the USA. The emigrant story that dreams are made of. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caroline_Kennedy
The HX Festival will host a multitude of other events and MB will give you all the full itinerary next week. One event does however merit special early mention. Namely, the Photo Workshop hosted by none other than Irish/Arab Photo Shooter Supreme MB! Yes indeedee lads, for the paltry miserly sum of 20 Shekels (Euro) you can partake in the MB Photo Master Class at the HX lake front, which will ensure that you too can produce the Nat Geo standard pics that MB produces week in week out for the blog, and which you have now come to expect as a right. MB will not be bringing his camel, in case you were wondering, although he would provide nice backdrop to some shots. (Note to self – rethink the camel). It’s not yet publicised lads, but already the class is almost full, so get your booking application in asap.
It is not yet known if Caroline will book in for the Photo session with MB. Ok, MB will admit she is stinking rich multi millionairess with access to the entire professional photographer class of USA, probably for free. But have any of those Yankee Dog photographers ever produced an irreverent weekly blog from the land of beheadings and limb amputations? I am sure not lads. And could any of them milk a cow by hand, or make a wynde of hay with a pitchfork, or castrate a young bull turning him into a useless mutant good for nothing other than burger production? Yes lads, I think you will all agree – Caroline would indeed be selling herself very short if she chose other than MB. Inshallah she will choose wisely.
What else to tell you lads? Conversations lads, yes, conversations.
A few days back MB was traveling home from work in the company of an Aussie coworker and the young Sudan lad that MB has mentioned few times in the blog of late. MB & Aussie (Whities) sat in the front sea while Sudan lad (non-Whitie) sat in the back. All in their rightful place lads, hahahahaha! Joke lads – In case any followers with sub 150 IQ levels might be thinking MB has turned into some kind of racist Neanderthal. But am sure the blog has no sub 150 followers as it’s a minimum entry requirement.
Anyway MB & Aussie were shooting the breeze about the events of the past & the coming months. MB mentioned the HX Fest, photography, some wineries MB had visited on trip down under few years back. Aussie mentioned upcoming 25 holiday he will take on a beach down under, when he & surf board will hit the waves for few hours each morning. Wifey will set up camera on a tripod on some headland overlooking the waves to get the awesome shots of husband exiting the wave tubes just in time. Remainder of the days will be filled with restaurants, bit of shopping, friends. The good life down under.
We dropped Aussie to his hotel when MB gave permission to Sudan lad to sit in front seat! Sudan lad then said to MB – “MB, what the hell was that conversation?”. “What the f*ck are you on about Sudan lad” replied MB. “That entire conversation you had with Aussie, with talk of surf boards, festivals, photography – it was a totally and completely Whitie conversation. Two people from the 3rd world could not have had it. They would not even have understood it” shot back Sudan lad.
For once MB shut his mouth, and reflected on what Sudan lad had said. And came to conclusion that Sudan lad had said a mouthful. All conversations are products of our backgrounds. Pretty obvious I suppose when you think about it, but MB never had. Maybe you need to work in places like this to sometimes see the obvious, or have it shown to you.
This Weeks Pics
Are all from last years HX Festival, to give you flavour.
Mentioned Aussie pal above lads. He is very interesting character in his own right. Along with the day job he has spent time in recent years designing a self hypnosis app for surfers, designed to get them to perform at highest level every time, rather than the hit& miss performance that many experience during a surfing season. Now available for iPhone & Android. Am wondering if this app could be applied to other sports like tennis or golf? What say you Mr M?
So check it out lads on http://www.hypnosurf.com
Saw on the net yesterday that 3 young European girls made a topless protest outside a courthouse where a young Muslim girl is being tried for upsetting some Salafist Muslim group and allegedly insulting Islam. I hope the embassies of the 3 girls get them home quick. Such behaviour out these parts is very much ‘haram’ and would be considered akin to behaving like a prostitute (‘sharmuta’ in the Arabic). And you will never hear any words of sympathy out here for sharmuta or any sympathetic words why girls might get into that game like you might do in the west. So MB hoping they get tickets home real fast. They will not receive kind treatment in prison if they sentenced. To put it mildly.
As for the Muslim girl, she previously posted a topless photo of herself on facebook, which caused huge controversy. Although this is not why she is on trial. Read both links below if of interest:
Note to Muslim visitors – do not eat John Finn’s sausages – they are pork (khanzeer) so haram for you. Ask him for beef burger instead.
Harassment in Saudia Arabia
MB has told you all many times that the Saudi version of Islam is stricter than strict, and laughed at by people of other Islamic countries. Some of the behaviour seen here would probably get people locked in mental institutions in other countries, but not here.
This week some nutball religious conservative posted a suggestion on Twitter that people should harass women working in shopping centres to show them the error of their ways and prevent them becoming sharmuta. Thankfully, in a sign that the country might be going in a different direction, hundreds of Twitter people turned on the guy. But others supported him. Such is the thinking, sadly, of many in thee parts. MB read in separate report that Muslim Imams (Priests) are making weekly presentations to the office of the Ruler, King Abdullah, to change the law to ensure that women could no longer work in shops and shopping centres. Crazy in any other country. But not here:
In a related story MB saw the following from a fellow blogger earlier this week. No comment:
Kuwait shows respect for Saudi women driving ban
Last Thursday, Brig. Saleh Al-Najim, the head of a Kuwaiti delegation, stated that out of respect for the Saudi ban on women driving, his country will make the exception of not issuing driving licenses to Saudi women until they provide proof of their male guardian’s permission. I’m shocked and disappointed that the Kuwaiti government would exploit how politically weak Saudi women are to gain favor. But that isn’t why I’m writing this post. I’m writing it because this particular tactic of expressing an opinion about a sovereign nation’s internal laws by altering yours is something that has occurred to me before. A few years back I either dreamed or read somewhere that a politician proposed to the European Union that Saudi men not be allowed to drive in the EU until they end the ban on women driving in Saudi. Judging by the last Olympics, that type of restriction on Saudi men could actually work in making a change. How weird would it be for those banning people from driving their hard-earned cars because of their gender to have a taste of their own medicine?
Like this story. Husband presented future wife with expensive watch as gift. Watch broke and upon taking it for repair wife was informed that the watch was a fake! She is now divorcing the cheapskate husband:
Nice to see Pakistani girl Malala Jousafzai in Abu Dhabi last week to say thanks for the air ambulance supplied by UAE to take her to UK for treatment after she was shot by the Pakistani Taliban in her Swat valley homeland. Still under a death sentence from the crazies. She met with future ruler Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nihayn, son of UAE ruler.
Have not had chance to read DH blog this week. Think it’s about the expat wife and kids heading back to the cooler climates of the west leaving hubby to toil under the hot desert sun:
Have a nice weekend. I see some sunshine appeared in the Irish this week after long absence. Inshallah it continues to shine.
Take care all.
Posted on May 24, 2013
Posted on May 23, 2013
Hope all well with you & yours.
A depressing week in many ways. Was talking to a Syrian friend in recent days and he made the point to MB that many people and groups in this region are becoming more & more extreme, wrapping a cocoon around themselves and their group, and totally intolerant of other groups and other beliefs. In years past people lived peacefully together and knew tolerance. The fathers and grandfathers of groups now killing each other once drank coffee together and farmed side by side and attended family weddings and funerals of the others. He reminded me that the birthplace of Christianity is Damascus, not Jerusalem He knew one family growing up in Damascus where one brother and sister were a Christian nun & priest, and another brother & sister in the same family were Muslims. And everyone lived in peace together. This region of the world would seem to be on a journey to a dark & dangerous place.
But let us not talk of depressing things. The same Syrian introduced MB to some music. Or rather a musician, called Omar Farouk. Something different:
Hope you like lads.
This weeks pics, excluding match maker ones, are about the future. Have you ever wondered about the future lads? What type of houses and environments your grandchildren and their grandchildren might live in. Well, there is one partially built mini city in Abu Dhabi, UAE, which may provide some of the answers. It’s called Masdar City, and it adjoins Abu Dhabi airport.
Masdar city is a carbon neutral development and is a completely sustainability themed habitat. Uses design and materials combination to provide a way to live for large populations of humans that will not harm our planet. So the sun is used to generate heat and electricity. Building design provides courtyards where the surrounding building provide shade from the hot sun out these parts, and a lot more. In 2030 the daytime population of Masdar city will be 90,000 and habitant population approx 45,000. MB called recently to see it, avec camera. It’s presently small-scale, but extremely impressive. So arty architectural pics for you this week lads.
A place where businesses can thrive and innovation can flourish, Masdar City is a modern Arabian city that, like its forerunners, is in tune with its surroundings. As such, it is a model for sustainable urban development regionally and globally, seeking to be a commercially viable development that delivers the highest quality living and working environment with the lowest possible ecological footprint.
It is a community where cutting-edge cleantech research and development, pilot projects, technology testing, and construction on some of the world’s most sustainable buildings are all ongoing. As such, Masdar City offers a fertile environment that inspires creativity and growth to organisations operating in this strategic and dynamic sector.
Match Making – The Outing
Few weeks back guest blogger Miss L told us all about arranged marriages out here in the Middle East. Irish followers of this blog will all be aware of the famous arranged marriage festival we have every August back in Ireland in the small town on Lisdoonvarna on the West coast of County Clare. Where match making has taken place for years and years, and where many a man has found a life partner. It’s fame is such that bus loads of American ladies are turning up in recent years to find that hunka hunka burnin (Irish) love.
I am reminded of a great story told to me many years ago by a friend who was born and raised in Lisdoon, as many Irish refer to the town. Concerns a farmer from West Limerick, who attended the festival each Summer in search of a life partner, driving down each year on his old Massey Ferguson tractor, as he did not possess a car.
He attended the event over a number of years until eventually match maker Willie found a young lady who had no qualms about marrying a ‘tractor man’. Tractor Man now had a new wife to help him with milking the cows, saving the hay, plucking dead hens, feeding pigs and all the other bonding activities that farming couples engage in the world over. Bliss.
And being respectful of the occasion and the town that brought them together, the happily married couple continued in future years to take their summer holidays during festival time in Lisdoon to relive the thrills and spills of their first courtship. But they still had not acquired a car. And as there was insufficient room on the tractor for the new wife, the farmer, in most romantic fashion, threw a bale of straw into the transport box each year, hooked it up to the tractor, and off they would journey into the Lisdoon sunset. Happy as pigs in muck, as we say back home.
There will be many followers who do not know the joys of driving a Massey ferguson tractor or even recognise one, or of sitting in a transport box, or who would not even know a bale of straw if it fell on their head from the sky. So MB is giving you two pics by way of explanation – just for all you city slicker blog followers.
Lisdoon caught MB’s attention earlier this week when he noticed that the Lisdoon festival is going ‘pink’ this year, with the introduction of a gay & lesbian match making weekend as part of the overall event. Live & let live says MB, wish them well with all the craic! Match Maker Willie is handing over the reins to drag queen Panti for that weekend only. Maasalama to all who may journey there!
LISDOONVARNA is going pink!!
Yes, Europe’s oldest and boldest Matchmaking Festival is getting more inclusive and is opening this season with a gay-themed weekend.
The media are already very excited about it, judging from the chatter, and that’s just day one!
Dubbed ‘The Outing,’ the weekend will feature matchmaking events, concerts and more, all hosted by drag-queen Panti.
Event Director Donal Mulligan said, “We’re taking the best of old Ireland – music, dancing and matchmaking – and putting it together with the variety of entertainment on offer in the LGBT community.”
Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mo
Often make joking references to Sheikh Mo lads, as you are all aware. But he does fantastic job generally with his Emirate and it is the tolerant jewel in this MENA (Middle East North African region). This week Sheikh Mo is cracking the whip with his Ministries to ensure that all Government services will be available on smart phones within a short while. Plucked the following from his Facebook page earlier in the week:
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Met with around 1000 Government officials today and announced our vision for the Government of the future. The Government of the future works 24/7 and 365 days a year. It is as hospitable as hotels, fast in delivering & strong in its procedures. The Government of the future is innovative and adaptive. It improves the quality of life and helps people achieve their happiness. We started working on this vision. Today, we launched the “m-Government” project with the goal of providing all services via smart phones. Through m-Government, we aim to reach people instead of them reaching us. Through their smartphones we can make their lives easier. Our deadline for the m-Government project is 2 years. We will never tolerate any failure in achieving this goal.
RM has just become the first lady from saudi Arabia to scale Mount Everest. When MB read the story he was more surprised that a/ she was allowed to do so by her family, and b/ that she did so in the company of 3 men, which I read in another report. Her family are obviously not of the traditional Saudi variety. Well done Miss Raha!
Katmandu: The first woman from Saudi Arabia to scale Mount Everest said she doesn’t intend to inspire a movement, but would be happy to change people’s opinions of Saudi women and Saudi women’s opinions of themselves.
Raha Moharrak told reporters in Katmandu on Tuesday after returning from the mountain that her next goal is to climb the highest peaks in all seven continents. She said she has already scaled five of them.
Moharrak, 27, was among hundreds of climbers who reached Everest’s 8,850-metre summit in recent days because of favourable weather conditions on the mountain.
“It was very personal thing. I didn’t do it to cause a movement, did not do it because of anything, but If I can change people’s opinion or the world’s opinion on Saudi women and if I can change Saudi women’s opinion about themselves I would be really happy,” Moharrak said.
Syria – Robert Fisk
Interesting commentary as ever from Robert Fisk. Just returned from Syria.
DW: Mr. Fisk, you’ve just returned from Syria. What were your impressions?
Robert Fisk: What you find is that there are large areas which have been destroyed, large areas which are largely depopulated, and large areas which are not only undamaged, but in which life more or less continues. This applies not only to the center of Damascus, it applies mostly to the city of Latakia, where there’s a large Alawite community, and the same applies to Tartus. So you do find certain areas of Syria where the government is still firmly in control and where some semblance of life goes on. You can go out to lunch; you can shop; you can go to your office.
In a week when the words ‘Islamic’ or ‘Islam’ or ‘Muslim’ or even ‘Arab’ were mentioned in not too flattering terms on world news TV channels MB would like to mention that about 2 hours ago he took break from writing the blog to go to the local supermarket. Got into a chat with a Saudi man and his son at the hot oven counter. After a few minutes chat they invited MB back to their house for dinner. MB went along and had great fun with the entire family (4 sons and 1 daughter), except for wife who remained in the kitchen as is the custom. Nice meal and great hospitality.
Have a good weekend
Deutschland uber alles! Champions League final Saturday night so final game of the season for the footy fans and something to shout about, apart from fact that its 2 German teams playing. And generally there is little or no support outside of Germany for either. To watch or not to watch – that is the question.
Ciao for now lads.
Posted on May 17, 2013
Posted on May 16, 2013
May you all have some salam/peace in your lives. Its a good thing to have for sure.
Mentioned last week that we had some heavy rains out these parts in recent weeks. MB also mention the tornado that he recently got caught up in (& survived) and the earthquake that shook the UAE that had its epicenter in Iran. We certainly don’t do weather stuff out here by half. If MB saw a swarm of locusts outside the hotel this evening he wouldn’t be half surprised.
So just to give you break from the jaw-dropping shots of famous world structures and places of recent weeks lads, MB has decided to give you some pics this week of the recent weather. Took a few shots coming home for work on night of the tornado, plus sat outside the hotel that night and took a few Nat Geo standard shots, for sport, of passing cars as the rains fell. Both arty & awesome then MB? For sure lads!
We are now back to to the regular hot hot hot. Today was circa 40 degrees and not at all exciting for the camera, just too bright, so it’s now packed away until MBs June trip back home.
Big congrats to MB on reaching 40 blogs this week on this website. Thanks lads. Granted, some of the blogs are single shot photos in the Weekly Photo Challenge thingy, but they all count officially. And in their own way are as equally awesome as the regular effort you will agree.
Was a busy week workwise and the brain a tad tired. But we persevere lads. Onwards!
One of the comments says that Bob Dylan said this song was written by God. It’s probably true.
Stumbled across this earlier in the week on one of the blogs I follow:
People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat on you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
Have mentioned the Afghan restaurant where MB goes on occasion to you previously lads. It’s bit (or a lot) 3rd worldish, with flies having free reign and the decor & furniture certainly not of the 5 Star variety. If you are into hygiene and all things clean, then do not look too carefully at the plate you are eating from, or the basket that holds your delicious hot bread which has come straight from the mud oven. The little dish that holds the obligatory side order (served with everything) of raw chopped onions and raw green chillies will also not allow you to see your reflection.
But there is not a single piece of processed food in any of the steel pots that contain the tasty grub. And as MB has said to you previously, he suspects the very tasty mutton is killed and skinned out back behind some sheets of plywood before landing few minutes later in the mutton pot in the kitchen. It doesn’t come any fresher than that lads! (must take look back there next time). In any event, the human body seems to develop a resistance over a few visits to anything that might more normally prove terminal, allowing the regular punters to just concentrate on enjoying the fine food and bottled water.
The Aghani staff are all very friendly types with smiles on faces when MB and others enter, and it’s generally part of the custom to shake a few hands on entering. For MB at least. The natives are always welcoming and seemingly happy to see a rare Westie enter the premises to eat amongst them. MB suspects that he is only one of one Westie who does. In all MBs visits he has experienced only an open friendly welcome and some natural curiosity about the part of the world MB comes from – and is he Amriki?. La, Irelandee boys, not too far from Britawnya.
But MB had different experience yesterday when he went in for the evening meal. Was a staff lad sitting watching TV in middle of the small eating area and upon passing MB extended his hand, greeting the lad with a ‘marhaba/hello’. The lad was dressed in typical Afghani dress and had the beard and head gear of a conservative Muslim. Not that his appearance mattered to MB, who takes all as he finds them.
The lad did not accept the hand of MB and for a second or two MB thought he was distracted by the TV programme he was watching. But after another second or two it was obvious that the lad just did not want to acknowledge or accept MBs greeting. So MB withdrew his hand and proceeded to the food area to place his order from the owner who had no issue to shake the hand of MB and whom he knows well at this stage. With a strong honest grip and a wide friendly smile on his face.
MB was in the company of his young Sudanese friend, a Muslim lad himself, who was intrigued as to why Afghani lad would refuse to shake the hand of MB. So on finishing our food young Sudani challenges young Afghani in the Arabic language. And the following is more or less the conversation that followed, with the Afghani giving his answer and reasoning for his behavior:
“Why did you refuse to take the hand of the Westie?”
“Because I want to refuse and because I hate him. Is he American or British? Damn his soul to hell if he is”
“No, he is Irish”
“It’s the same”
“And what if he is a Muslim? Or not. How can you judge the man before you know him?”
“Is he a Muslim?”
“No, he is not”
“Then I did not misjudge him”
MB could analyse the above conversation ’till the cows come home. But he won’t. It’s said that education is the solution to most of the world’s problems. MB agrees.
Don Of All Trades
Want to introduce you to a blogger that I follow who writes some very funny stuff, usually. Unusual name – and a multi-tasker by the sounds of it. If you like your food or cooking, the following DOAT blog will be to your liking and put a big smile on your face. MB was in stitches reading it. Brilliantly funny composition!
Not a good time to be a Syrian woman. Especially if you are single, and your family have no money or food, and maybe you are stuck in a refugee camp in Turkey or Jordan hundreds or thousands of miles from home, with very little hope. In such desperate circumstances a young woman can become a possibly solution of sorts for her family, but at terrible cost. Which would not happen if times and circumstances in Syria were different. But this is life for many at the moment:
Dubai Police Force Cars
This story is still getting great PR for brand Dubai on the net. And they are not finished yet.
Irish Bus Strike
Ireland had a bus drivers strike during the week. Was interesting to read that the head of Bus Eireann (the bus company) lives permanently in Dubai, and just goes to work each day via skype! The tone of the reports was not generally favourable as you can imagine. But if those Irish journalist do-dos stopped to think about it – why would a lad like him who can afford to do so, chose to live in wet & miserable Ireland when he can have 24/7/365 heat and a 5 star life of luxury in Dubai Marina. No contest!
Palm Island Hotel
And in case the bus lad needs another plush 5 Star to head to for after-work (after-skype) cocktails he will shortly have a 200M Euro hotel to visit on the Palm Jumairah, 5 mins drive from the Marina where he can shoot the breeze with fellow expats and gargle the fine beverages in the tax free Dubai sunshine.Allah u akbar!
Reluctant Emigrant – DH
So long lads
Another week down lads and our weekend already started over here. Yours just about to commence back home. Have a good one.
Posted on May 10, 2013
Posted on May 9, 2013
Greetings & Salam to all
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway
Hope all well lads. We are getting belted with rain in the Middle East at the moment. This weeks blog from DH (below) is all about the rain in UAE, and MB can confirm that we are also getting rain of biblical (or Qoranical) proportions in Saudi for last few weeks. It’s very late to get such rain in this region so we are not sure if just one of mother natures little quirks, or the rain gods are displeased, or global warming. Who knows?!
And then the sun came out for a moment
And if you thought you are getting heavy rain in Ireland this past while lads then please think again. It seems that in 2,345 BC Ireland suffered 20 years of continuous rainfall, and numerous umbrella millionaires were born. The following link gives you that story lads and there is also mention of 10 years non stop rain in 540 AD. So please all Irish lads, quit your moaning and belly aching about a mere 9 months of wetness. There could be plenty more on the way:
MB has no clue what to write about this week lads so he will have a cuppa qawah (coffee) + some choc to try to kick-start the brain. This week’s pics are mainly from last week’s visit to Dubai and MB had the good fortune to be outside the Burj Khalifa (Khalifa Tower – in English) on a cloudy evening & night with his best camera, and he just went mental with the pics. The pics are over a few hours, and go from early evening daylight to later dark of night. Hope you all like.
The Burj, as some of you might know, is the tallest building in the world at approx 830M high. When you are on the viewing deck on Floor Nr 126, there is still a height equivalent to the height of the Empire State Building in NY to get you to the top. MB’s pics do not convey the height of the structure, as they are all too close range. If you are a few kilometers away, looking at the adjoining 50 & 60 story buildings then you can really see the perspective and appreciate the scale of it all.
From wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burj_Khalifa
MB still wondering what to write about!
Tornado in the desert
Yes lads, MB got caught up in a tornado in the Saudi desert this week (yesterday actually) and for once MB did not really have a solution if his office complex got sucked up into the Saudi sky. It came upon us in an instant lads, and within seconds our bright sunny mid afternoon sunshine disappeared, to be replaced by night-time like darkness and a thunderous noise.
Met this dog with his owner on the street. Owners were happy when MB emailed them the pic. Even in liberal Dubai there are many areas where you are not allowed to own or walk a dog. Dogs are considered unclean by Muslims so they do not have them. Saudi Arabia has population of some 25M people but I have never seen a single dog!
MB was in his office being his beautiful brilliant best when the deafening tornado noise erupted without warning and went on for 10 or 15 minutes. The amount of desert sand sucked up by the wind took visibility down to almost nothing as deepest darkness descended. Within 30 seconds the entire interior of the offices were covered in fine sand dust as it blew in through every possible orifice – doors blown open, tiny cracks at edges of windows and others. Computers, desks, humans – all covered within seconds. Many seasoned locals immediately had scarfs over their faces with only eyes visible as they sat at their work stations. But most like MB did not have such attire, and just choked on the dust.
The office complex immediately started to shake with the ferocity of the force of nature at work, and it seemed for a while like everything would come away from the foundations and we would all end up in Iran within a short while. Mercifully (God is Irish surely) the building structure held good and eventually the storm passed. We were then battered by extremely heavy rainfall for 2 hours or so, which caused huge flooding throughout the locality. Driving home later involved trying to find shallowest parts of road-lakes to drive slowly through, with some Arab lads struggling in their broken down cars in middle of the lakes (haha!).
But MB survived to tell you the tale lads. So all’s well that end’s well. Allah u akbar!
Still wondering what to write about!
Where the hell is Matt
MB is sure many of you will have seen the Matt Harding videos online, where he dances in numerous locations around the world with the local people. And just conveys a great sense of fun and the goodness of humanity, regardless of race, creed or colour. It’s referred to as a ‘jig’ on Wikipedia, but its unlike any Irish jig you will have ever seen. Really great great stuff, and MB defies anyone to watch this without a smile on your face. I see some of the YouTube comments admit to crying while watching. Can understand why.
Where the Hell is Matt? is an Internet phenomenon that features a video of Dancing Matt (Matt Harding) doing a dance “jig” in many different places around the world in 2005. The background music in the video is the song Sweet Lullaby Dancing Remix by Deep Forest. The video garnered popularity on the video sharing site Youtube. There are now five major videos plus outtakes and background videos on YouTube.
In 2007, Jawed Karim, one of the founders of YouTube, stated that Harding’s video was his favorite on YouTube at that time.
Clouds wrap around the top of the Burj Khalifa
So for those who have not seen previously (and for those who have):
Go on lads – play it again!
Think I mentioned BBC World News programme recently about the Hassidic Jews in their native Israel, where there is much conflict with the secular majority. But because they hold balance of political power they are influencing the whole political situation in the country to a far greater degree than their 20% of the population might merit. And like religious zealots everywhere, tolerance is not a quality they possess in any great abundance. Preferring to look in tunnel vision fashion at everything from their own very narrow perspective. And when you believe that God is also on your side, and only on your side, then you become one seriously difficult group to deal with.
Follower MOD posted the following link on Fb recently which tells story of the Hassidim in USA and issues that are arising. Long read but very interesting, if you are into this kind of politico/religious stuff like MB:
Still wondering what the hell to write about!
The Burj disappears into the clouds
Dubai Police Cars
Think I mentioned recently lads that the recent purchase of some dream machine cars by Dubai police force was possibly big PR exercise by the Ruler to promote brand ‘Dubai’ around the globe. The following article confirms same, with confirmation that the Ferrari will spend most of its time in the tourist spots, rather that chasing boy racers on the major highways.
And to blow everyone away lads it has been decided that the Ferrari will be driven by female officers. MB smiled when he read that one – living as he does in Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed drive cars – at all. Dubai’s Sheikh Mo is really giving a poke in the eye to the backward thinking of many out these parts. As MB has often said – Long Live Sheikh Mo!
What oh what to write about!Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
MB though that the 70s or 80s band Depeche Mode were all dead with only some remaining memories in Madam Touseau’s or some musical museums. But how wrong can MB be lads? (not a serious question lads). DM will play the after-race gig at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – for God sake!http://gulfnews.com/about-gulf-news/al-nisr-portfolio/tabloid/depeche-mode-to-close-abu-dhabi-f1-1.1180240?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=&utm_term=%26282937If MB does not think of something to write about soon lads he just might give the whole thing a skip this week!
Reluctant Emigrant – Let It Rain
In keeping with this week’s theme lads DH is also writing about the local weather, with great style.
Met this Arab couple on the street who were trying to take self-portrait with their camera phone. MB appeared before them like a Photo God and took this shot, which he email later. They are still smiling!
Just could not think of anything decent to discuss this week at all lads. Humblest apologies (a rarity for MB). Will produce better effort next week inshallah. There will be days like this!
From one of Ireland’s finest – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-h2AgbaVNA
Have a good one lads!
Posted on May 3, 2013
Posted on May 3, 2013
Greetings to all
Something different this week lads. Guest blogger Miss L is having her say, at the invitation of MB. If you read last week’s ‘Marriage’ blog you will remember the story of Dad Nr 1 & 2. If you did not read it please take a moment to read in particular the story of Dad Nr 2.
Muchos gracias to Miss L for accepting the invitation and hope we can get some more from her in the future.
Enough from MB!
Assalm Alykom, Marhaba, Ahleen (different Hellos in Arabic) MB lads.
I am pleasured to be the blog guest of the blog for this week. Many thanks to MB for giving me this opportunity! I appreciate it.
Just an overview about myself.. I am a Muslim young lady in my mid-twenties originally from Palestine, born & raised in Saudi Arabia.
I am Business Administration graduate & luckily working in a successful firm doing brand development & research for large entities. I am fluent in both native Arabic & English & for the matter of fact… i am the DAUGHTER of DAD no 2… & that was indeed my story told by MB, a good friend of the family.
Luckily, I am a lady who visited lots of countries abroad such as USA, UK, Greece, etc… & got exposed to many different people with different cultures & beliefs.
One common thing I have noticed is a misperception westerners had about marriage in the Arab Muslim.
What resulted in this misperception I was wondering?! Is it the fact that we are totally at odds with the west when coming to this subject! Or is it because westerns sometimes neglect the fact that Arabs & Muslims are very diverse belonging to different social status & education level & thus they should not at all be perceived the same?
Anyhow, Lads the difference in values, opinions, marriage style, religion, & all of that helps enrich us as humans by getting exposed & mingling with each other.
That is why, I am honored today to hold the microphone MB granted me & candidly dig deeper to give you a closer look of marriage in our culture!
In our religion ”Islam”, it is forbidden for a male & female to indulge in affairs unless they are tied with marriage. The rational justification of this the many problems that may occur from illegitimate relationships that occur such as illegitimate children. In addition to the countless psychological problems that may negatively affect both the society + both the male & female who get really affected when getting involved in affairs that are sometimes temporary, doubtful in continuity, & doesn’t protect both parties.
Marriage in Islam Ladies & Gentlemen is a sacred binding contract that bonds a male & a female and outlines the rights and responsibilities of the groom and bride. Marriage must be declared publicly & divorce is permitted and can be initiated by either party.
What you probably don’t know ladies & gentlemen is that Islam indicates that ladies should never be FORCED into marriage & should always have a say about the man of which they will get married to!
However, sorrowfully some uneducated Arab families have forced their girls into marriage & thus implied to Westerners that this the case in our culture !
I assure you audience that this injustice act made by some uneducated, illiterate families is not in any way related to our religion which touches upon the lives of humans with mercy!
For example, humbly, I am a daughter to parents who strongly believes a girl should receive an equal high standard education just as a boy! I am educated, I have freedom of speech, & I am totally empowered by my family to make my decisions lead by their mentor-ship & advice when needed.
Hmm….you must be wondering??! How does marriage happen then?!!
OK! In conservative societies such as ours, how do we get married??
This is how it goes!
As our religion states, If a lady gets to meet a prospect guy at work, in a family gathering , or elsewhere & he is interested in her, He must first approach her family & come to her house (& not the way around as the west..)
If a guy is interested to know a lady better, he should get permission from her father & then they starts to see whether things goes fine or not…
Yet, what is the other case scenario in which you have not met anyone on the way?!
Just as what happens in the west where a friend, sister, or acquaintance sets you up for a date with some guy they feel might be interesting to you, in our culture the family does that! Families help set up the date! Just as simple as that…:)
In a wedding, a party, or a gathering…Arab ladies mostly tend to be (like all ladies all over the world 😉 interested in being well-dressed, beautiful, & attractive J (must note Arab Ladies love shopping J )
In these social gatherings, parents get exposed to a number of ladies…. & keep hidden intentions looking for a BRIDE for their sons! (just as the ball Cinderella went to when the prince was looking for a BRIDE J ) However, in our case the ball is running all year long J
If a mother happens to like one of the ladies….she gets to approach her family & ask them for that her son meets the daughter!!
Based on so many criteria which families set such as age, education, social status, nationalities, etc.. families either refuse or agree to meet the son!
Then, the Guy meets the Girl!! They get to sit together (OFFICIAL FIRST DATE THING)… to check whether there is a mutual chemistry between them & whether they clicked with one another!
They tend to sit a couple more times together (yet always in the lady’s home ) & if things worked out & they CLICKED! They apparently get engaged!!
If not… then they Both are History to each other!
In our culture lads… ladies are not suppressed nor forced….ladies are just treated with extra super care just as a diamond in a box who should not be touched but by who is indeed serious about wearing this precious diamond..
By this, an Arab lady is somehow less vulnerable to the exploitation & the heart-break which ladies in other societies suffer from!
This is exactly what our religion indicated & how things should go…
However, it is always important to note that some members of our societies started to oppose…
By this, I hope I gave a glance about a culture that may be hidden to many of you!
Hmm..… coming back to my story! Well, like any other lady any else in the world… I have not yet met Mr. RIGHT…& met lotssssssssss of Mr. WRONGS just as the drug dealer with the picture MB saw 😉
At the end, allow me to present to you this little gift that tells more about my culture. I hope you enjoy it:
Remember, NEVER judge the majority by the minority, the minority who serve as bad image models of one’s society….
& forget not to always dig deeper for the truth to prevail…
Posted on May 2, 2013
Good reaction to last week’s blogs, mashallah. DMc was amused with the tales of the Polygamist Jewelry maker Mohammad from Yemen. And a number of (single) ladies, not surprisingly, reacted most favourably to the ‘Arranged Marriage’ blog.
MB will continue with the single topic blog lads, for as long as the Gods inspire him. But this week, in a first for the HX, MB hands over total control to guest blogger Miss L. If you did not read last week’s marriage blog, then please do so. Miss L’s personal story featured and she has now accepted invitation from MB to explain to HX Report followers her ‘mid twenties Muslim female thoughts’ on relationships & marriage in this region from her perspective. MB found the read extremely interesting. Big big thanks to Miss L for accepting the invitation and challenge. Would very much appreciate feedback from followers/readers, good, bad or indifferent. TVM. Her blog will go out tomorrow, Friday.
Received email of desperation (I think) following that same marriage blog from follower RB, who implored MB to send some Arab husband possibilities back to Ireland for her review and delectation. Please note RB – that Mohammad will not travel to meet the Irish Mountain (not to infer in any way that you are large in scale) so you must instead book your ticket, and get on over to these parts to meet the mythical Mohammad.
When MB receives confirmation of travel booking, MB will prepare chaporoned meetings with suitable boys. And also please note RB, there will be absolutely no ‘delectation’. Maybe some hand holding after supervised date Nr 5, followed immediately by engagement party, followed day later by wedding – then you are off my hands al hamdallah, and must fend for yourself. Inshallah the first born will be a boy named Mike. Best of luck with it all RB!
This weeks’s pics – Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi
Are just amazing and unreal lads. Even more amazing and unreal than the normal amazing & unreal weekly pics from MB that you now expect like spoon of sugar with your tea, or icing with your cake or other such like (that MB can not think of at the moment).
The Grand Mosque is open to visitors every day, except Fridays (the holy day) I think. 8th largest in the world, and just awesome in scale (equivalent to 5 football pitches in footprint). Here is the Wikipedia link lads if any of you would like to swot up on it.
But MBs pics paint a million words, and please all feel free lads to blast the Nobel lads with some nominations for the Photography prize this year. Ta in advance lads. Am humbled by your support (not).
Flowers made from coloured marble pieces, cut into white marble cladding
Too sexy for his love!
You all remember the story of few weeks back lads where the 3 Emirati boys were deported from Saudi Arabia by the Religious Police, as they were considered far too good looking & big danger to womankind in the Kingdom, where 13M women allegedly broke out in non-menopausal hot flushes. Anyway, the blogosphere has been abuzz ever since to discover the identities of the 3 ‘sex on legs’ Emirati lads.
So big thanks to young Sudanese male follower MH who forwarded the below link to MB which ‘outs’ one of the alleged ‘Man Gods’. This link comes with severe warning to all females – the pic that you are about to view may cause you to rethink your whole existence. If you are presently happy with the man you have or your religion, MB suggests you do not look – as things may never be the same again. Be warned!
And just to give you idea of just how dashing the Emirati lad actually is lads, MH has confided to MB that he is now considering his sexual orientation, having risked all to take a peek. Powerful or what lads?!
DH all excited this week to see Irish foodstuffs on the Abu Dhabi shop shelves, that can surely do nothing more that bring on nightmarish memories of misery & incessant rainfall:
Some pics from the recent pic competition that failed to recognise the genius of the lens that is MB:
Over & Out
Will leave it at that this week lads. Short but very very sweet! Enjoy the pics!
Take care all.